James Daniels joins brother LeShun at Iowa
IOWA CITY, Ia. – When LeShun Daniels Jr. was 17 years old, James became his little brother in age only.
"That's where he had a giant growth spurt," Iowa's junior running back said. "He became a massive human being."
James was 15, and two years behind LeShun in school. When LeShun gained 1,614 yards and scored 15 touchdowns as a senior at Harding High School in Warren, Ohio, James opened holes for him as the starting center.
"I ran behind him a decent amount of times," LeShun said. "He always did a good job for me."
James, a four-star recruit, has joined his brother at Iowa. A true freshman this fall, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder picked Iowa over Ohio State. He also had an offer from Alabama, among others. James enrolled at the semester break and already has a spring practice under his belt.
"My brother is adjusting to everything so well right now," LeShun said. "He's got a handle on his classes. The football stuff, the workouts. And me being here is definitely helping him a lot."
While James hasn't taken the field yet, LeShun is anxious to get back on it. He broke his right ankle in practice after the seventh game last season and had surgery. Daniels returned to see limited duty in the Hawkeyes' season-ending loss to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
"It was a routine play," LeShun said of the injury. "I made a normal cut. The next thing you know, I went to stand up and I couldn't put any pressure on it."
Daniels has lost weight — he's now listed at 225 pounds on his 6-foot frame. His goal is to take the field as a more durable back.
"Even though I cut my weight down, I've improved my strength in all areas," LeShun said.
Daniels, who had 15 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown in his abbreviated sophomore season, is anxious to show people what he's got. Is he a power back in the image of Mark Weisman, or a back with more burst?
"I think of myself as in between," Daniels said. "Sometimes you don't always have to go ram heads. You can make a nice cut, make a person miss and get some extra yardage. And there are times when you have to put your shoulder down and get tough yards. I'm more to the power side. But I definitely like to use my quickness and my speed when I have the opportunity."
When it was time for James to pick a college, LeShun didn't have to twist his brother's arm to join him.
"He pretty much made the decision on his own," LeShun said. "I told him it's a good place, and good people around here. And Iowa's known for its offensive line. I just let him make his decision. He loved it. That's why he came here."
Now, the table is set for another dose of Daniels and Daniels on the football field.
"It's a totally different situation," LeShun said. "Having your brother on your high school team, that's cool and all. But having him at a Division I school, that's a totally different monster. When we grew up, we were close. We're always doing stuff together. It's fun, just having him around."
Daniels and Daniels. Together again.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.